Ted Zukoski's Blog Posts

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Ted Zukoski's blog


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

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ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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Ted Zukoski is a Staff Attorney in Earthjustice's Rocky Mountain office who works to protect wilderness, roadless areas and the planet's climate on behalf of conservation groups in the Four Corners' states. Ted grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles at its smoggiest, but found a love of the outdoors amid the volcanoes, granite peaks and high mountain lakes of the Eastern Sierra. Firmly rooted in Colorado after almost 15 years on the East Coast, Ted heads to Utah's desert in the spring and to Rocky Mountain forests in the summer with his wife and two kids. When he's not writing Freedom of Information Act requests, he's reading too many books about World War II.

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18 February 2009, 12:18 PM
 

The news on climate change is coming thick and fast these days. Over the weekend, news reports stated scientific studies showed global warming accelerating faster than predicted.  Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to take a second look at regulating CO2 from coal-fired power plants as a pollutant, signaling a 180 from the Bush administration's do-nothing approach. Here in Colorado, the big news was President Obama signing the nearly $800 billion stimulus legislation after touring the new solar panel installation on top of Denver's Museum of Nature and Science.

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03 February 2009, 10:24 PM
 

When one hears the phrase "Boy Scout," one picture that comes to mind is a bunch of youngsters out in the woods, around a campfire, enjoying marshmallows as well as nature.  One might assume that on top of "trustworthy," "obedient," and "brave," Boy Scouts might also put protection of the Great Outdoors among their values.

A recent investigative series has thrown some cold water on that notion, however, exposing activities of some scouting groups that are cringe-inducing.  One piece has a part of the scouting organization clearcutting lands to make profits, just like the boys in Big Timber have been doing for years.  Another piece has another scouting group killing threatened salmon to fill a lake for recreation, and then using their political muscle to avoid any penalties.

There's no doubt that many individual scout troops are doing important things for the youngsters involved, and that the volunteer parents who make the organization work are conscientious caring folks who are trying to help boys become responsible adults.

And any organization that needs money to keep its work going and that supprts a large bureaucracy  like the Scouts is likely to have its problems.  Heaven knows us folks in the Environmental Movement have been known to not always "be the change" we want to see in the world.  (Please don't make fun of my gas guzzling hybrid SUV.)

The Scouts could use the airing of their dirty laundry to say "Whoops!  We could do a lot better."  Sadly, it seems the national headquarters of the BSA is choosing to hunker in its bunker, issuing a press statement that in part shoots the messenger: "We are extremely disappointed that [Scouts'] efforts have been portrayed in such a negative light." 

That doesn't exactly seem like the "brave" response.

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22 January 2009, 5:30 AM
 

Jan. 20 marked the dawn of a new day in Washington.  We hope it means a clear break from the past eight years of drilling, logging, and ignoring science.  So now all us enviro lawyers can retire or get real jobs because President Obama - enjoy those two words together - is going to take care of everything ... right?

Well ... probably not.  The next four years will likely be as busy as the last four for conservationists.  Here's a sampling of reasons.

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09 January 2009, 12:56 PM
 

With the end of the Bush Administration, the President's faithful servants are putting a smiley face on their "accomplishments." 

Before we look at the praises the Interior Department sang of itself, let's do our own quick review, starting with the out-and-out sleaze. 

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23 December 2008, 10:57 AM
 

In the arid West, water is life.  And life may get a lot more difficult for the Colorado River - a major source of water for Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California - over the next few decades.

First, there's the double whammy of population growth and climate change, the first demanding more water from the river, and the second making it extremely likely that there will be less water for that population to drink, use to grow crops, etc.

Second, there's the threat from oil shale development.  The Bush administration pushed through midnight regulations last month to spur development of oil shale deposits in Colorado and Utah.  The Bureau of Land Management estimates that it will take three gallons of precious West Slope Colorado water to produce one gallon of fossil fuel.  And while no one in the world has yet figured out how to develop shale commercially, Shell - which is researching and investing in oil shale - has already bought large numbers of water rights in the Colorado River basin.  That has the water buffalos at the Denver Water Board worried.

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28 November 2008, 8:39 AM
 

One of the good things about the Web is that it increases accountability.  Those questioning the so-called "mainstream media" (MSM) don't have to hope that a stingy editor will find a few column inches to publish an op-ed to have their views heard.

So while I'm a regular reader of The New York Times, I was happy to see this article at grist.org  panning the Times' story on the beetle epidemic which is killing off hundreds of thousands of acres of pine forest in the Rocky Mountains.  The "Newspaper of Record" omitted the key fact that global warming is playing a key role in the beetle epidemic.  That's because beetles are typically killed off when subzero temperatures last for days in the forest, something that hasn't happened for years.

It's a key aspect of the beetle story.  And kudos to grist.org for telling it.

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25 November 2008, 1:14 PM
 

We expected the worst for the environment from a Bush presidency.  And he has never worked harder to meet our expectations than in these last few months.  The list of misdeeds is long, and probably sadly familiar.  Some of W's parting shots include:

- Gutting key protection in the Endangered Species Act.

- Opening millions of acres of pristine lands in Utah to oil drillers and off-roaders - and paving the way for a last minute lease sale that will auction off drilling sites next to Arches National Park.

- Opening millions of acres in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming to oil shale development, which will suck streams dry and require ten new power plants to bake oil from rocks.

- Approving plans to carve powerline and pipeline corridors through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and other sensitive lands.

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14 October 2008, 12:50 PM
Protecting public lands from uranium mining

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne didn't like the law that required him to promptly protect public lands around the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.  So he's getting rid of it. Citizens have only a few days to express their opposition.

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03 October 2008, 6:00 AM
 

The headline in an e-newsletter trumpeted: "Bush Plans for Environmental Legacy."  And apparently it wasn't a joke.

Bush is being pressed to protect the largest underwater canyon on Earth and some scattered atolls in the Pacific as national monuments. Bush may think it's OK to protect America's environment as long as it's in the ocean thousand miles away from the mainland.  (Should we ask for a national park in Iraq? He might like that too.)

At the same time, of course, he was pressing a slightly different environmental legacy for the oceans: stripping protection from much of America's coastline from petroleum drilling. And with the help of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, he got what he wanted.

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15 September 2008, 12:03 PM
 

Forests are helping reduce global warming, but global warming is killing forests.